Accounting for how People are implicated in Automated Decision-Making.

Utopian visions of Automated Decision-Making (ADM) promise new levels of personalisation, control and choice in our future lives. Yet we still know very little about how ADM is really being incorporated, reinvented or resisted as part of everyday lives.

For example, in many countries, apps using ADM have been introduced to manage the spread of COVID-19. While these apps can help contain the spread of the coronavirus, some operate to document and limit people’s movements and social encounters in ways that cannot easily be challenged.

The People Programme builds on our world leading expertise in anthropology, sociology and media and communication studies to account for how people are implicated at all stages of ADM. It examines: how people make, operate, and re-invent automated decision-making tools and processes; the relationship between human and automated decisions; how social inequalities, inequities and power relationships shape the design and uses of ADM; and the changes needed so that responsible and ethical automated futures can be best achieved.

Innovating New Creative and Future-Focused Social Science Methods

There can be a temptation to view people simplistically as users or consumers of technologies, or faceless citizens or publics in our society. But by framing people in this way there is a gap in understanding how, where, when and why ADM might impact on and matter within the complexity of people’s lives: both in the present and in imagined futures.

To understand, influence and re-imagine the present and future of ADM, the People Programme will innovate new collaborative and creative research methodologies designed to understand the complex and changing environments through which people and technologies emerge together.

Inspired by social sciences, design, the arts and documentary practice, our new methods will reveal how ADM is already participating in and experienced as part of everyday life,  how it is imagined in different and sometimes competing visions of futures, and how these futures can be better guided towards responsible, inclusive, equitable and ethical outcomes for society.

International, Interdisciplinary and Impact-focused

The People programme understands ADM in Australia within a global context, which involves accounting for differences and inequalities in the global South, North and places in between. For example, while self-driving cars are one of the most hyped technologies that use ADM, and they have been pitched as the solution to societal and environmental issues, it is unclear how these uses will be possible in countries or regions with digital and road infrastructures that are unprepared for them.

Our research will account for ADM in Australia and selected countries in the Asia Pacific and other regions. It involves collaboration with a wide network of academics, industry, government and other organisations, as partners and stakeholders in our research projects, events and wider knowledge and learning communities to which our researchers are connected.